Published: October 21, 2008
Buying and selling banks. So what’s new? It is being done frequently on a very large scale, and it was also done on Saturday, October 4, in Timonium, on a much smaller scale, say, 342 banks for $1.33 million. Sounds like a good buy, and there were some as RSL Auction Co. auctioned off mechanical and still banks from the collections of Margaret and Tom McMahon, the Houghton family and various owners.
“We are pleased with the sale and feel we did very well for our consignors considering the financial temperament of the times,” said Steven Weiss, one of the auction partners. He added, “We worked long and close with our buyers and it paid off. Many added important examples of banks to their collections, and at fair prices.”
Only about 30 people were at the sale at Richard Opfer Auctioneering, Inc, 1919 Greenspring Drive, with Richard Opfer conducting the sale. It was announced prior to the start of the auction that there were 220 online bidders, including 12 from Belgium, and nine people staffed the phone lines.
“There were 89 absentee bidders who were serviced by phone, including one person who bid on 92 items, and many left bids executed by the auctioneer,” Leon Weiss, also an auction partner, said. He noted that “15 percent of the lots went to the Internet, mostly toys toward the beginning of the sale, representing six percent of the total sale.”
Ray Haradin of Pittsburgh is the third partner in the auction company and is a specialist in banks, toys, soldiers and Tiffany lamps.
After two days of previews, as well as three hours before the 11 am start of the auction, 142 lots of toys were sold before the banks came up. The first lot, a L. Marx Merry Makers Band, American windup toy of the 1930s, went over the high estimate of $700, selling for $1,175. A few lots later a Carousel/Roundabout with canopy, with hand painted horses, 16 inches in diameter, French, circa late 1800s, from the Perleman Museum, sold over estimate for $5,287.
A Monkey on Tricycle Bell toy, multicolor by J.&E. Stevens Co., Cromwell, Conn., circa 1890, cast iron and measuring 8 inches long, went slightly over estimate at $7,050. The Clockwork Boxing toy, made by Ives, Blakeslee Co., Bridgeport, Conn., 8 inches long and one of only three known examples, wood, papier mache and fabric, very good condition and working well, sold for $9,400, just over the high estimate of $8,000.
There were several lots of Charlie Chaplin memorabilia, including a windup toy made in Germany, circa 1925, tin lithograph image of Chaplin portraying his beloved “Tramp” character, that sold for more than three time the high estimate at $2,467.
The still banks kicked off with Man on Bale of Cotton, cast iron, made by US Hardware, circa 1898, for $998, just two bucks under the low estimate, followed by the General Butler bank that was made in 1884 by J.&E. Stevens, Cromwell, Conn., depicting the Civil War Union general. It is of cast iron, excellent and bright condition, and sold for $4,112, just over high estimate.
Indian with Tomahawk, multicolored headdress, made by Hubley Toy Company, circa 1915, cast iron and in near mint condition, went for $940. “This Indian is one of the best we have seen with the very colorful and original painted headdress,” Steven Weiss said. One of the most popular of the mechanical banks is Girl Skipping Rope, J.&E. Stevens, Cromwell, Conn., circa 1890. Lot 325 was listed in very fine condition and fell within estimate at $21,150. Another Stevens mechanical bank, Hen and Chick, white hen, circa 1901, excellent condition, sold for $4,112, against a high estimate of $7,000.
The Lighthouse bank, maker unknown, pristine condition but with a hairline crack on the rear panel of the building, sold for $5,287, just under the high estimate. The cast iron Mason Bank, pristine-plus condition, by Shepard Hardware Company, Buffalo, N.Y., circa 1887, went for $11,162, just under the $12,000 high estimate. The Speaking Dog, blue dress, pristine-plus and bright, made by Stevens, circa 1895, had a high presale estimate and sold for $14,100. Another Stevens bank, Monkey and Coconut, circa 1886, near mint condition and listed in the catalog as “possibly the finest known example,” sold for $12,925, just over the high estimate of $12,000.
Professor Pug Frog’s Great Bicycle Feat, a circa 1886 mechanical by Stevens, near mint condition, cast iron, sold for $34,075, and was followed by the Panorama Bank, again Stevens, circa 1876. “This bank is in near mint condition and one of the very few to come along in green,” Ray Haradin said. It carried an estimate of $30/40,000, and sold for $34,425.
“It was a good time for rabbits,” Steven Weiss said following the sale of the small and large versions of the cast iron Standing Rabbit. Made by Lockwood Mfg Company, South Norwalk, Conn., circa 1882. The coin is placed in the ball held by the rabbit and when the tail is depressed, the coin drops into the ball and the rabbit’s ears move.
The small rabbit, estimated at $2/3,000, near mint condition and bright, sold for $11,162 to a bidder in the room. The Standing Rabbit, large, near mint and “possibly the finest known example,” estimated at $4/6,000, sold for $15,275. It was also bought by a bidder in the room who underbid the previous lot. Leon Weiss noted that “condition was perfect and there was not even a scratch on the ball near the slot where the coins went.”
The Roller Skating bank, Kyser & Rex Company, Philadelphia, circa 1880, cast iron and very fine condition, sold for $39,950, in the middle of the estimate. A rare Trick Donkey bank, near mint by Ives, Blakeslee & Williams, Bridgeport, Conn., cast iron and from the Andrew Emerine collection, had a high estimate of $15,000 and sold for $18,800. Several lots from the end of the sale, the Wimbledon Bank, made by John Harper & Company Ltd, Willenhall, England, circa 1885, sold slightly over high estimate at $27,025. It was in near mint condition with the original flag and Stephen Steckbeck was list in the provenance.
RSL Auction Co is planning another bank and toy sale for either May or June 2009. For information, 908-236-7474 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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